May 14, 2011

L.A. Noire

There's been a lot made out of the realistic facial expressions of the characters in the latest from Rockstar Games, L.A. Noire. It uses "ground-breaking new MotionScan performance-scanning technology, which utilizes 32 high-definition cameras to capture actors’ faces in 3D, transferring every aspect of the performance into the game, enabling players for the first time to lip-read in-game characters and to read every facial expression down to the finest detail" (source). To me, it's actually the least appealing part of the game. I think the process makes the characters' heads seem disproportionally larger than their bodies, especially if they are wearing a hat, which, because the setting is the 1940s, everyone is.

Ma'am, I'm Detective Bighead. I need to ask you some questions.

But I'm sure I can get used to the heads looking so odd after a while. Other than that, it has some really cool things going for it:

1. It's done in part by Rockstar Games, maker of the Grand Theft Auto series and last year's Red Dead Redemption (and later add-on mini-game Red Dead Nightmare). I love just about everything they've done, including Manhunt and even Bully. Because Rockstar is involved, L.A. Noire features a "sandbox" style of play, used previously in the GTA. games. So, yay.. Okay, so I was totally wrong about what I said in the previous sentence.

2. It's set in Los Angeles (duh) during the 1940s. The New York Times described it as being "Steeped in gorgeous renderings of 1947 Los Angeles." It should have a kind of Sunset Blvd./L.A. Confidential vibe to it. The Guardian review describes the setting as being "a gloriously convincing depiction of Los Angeles in 1947."

3. It ought to be somewhat like playing a Raymond Chandler novel (my favorite books) or a classic noire film. This early reviewer says:

"From start to finish, LA Noire feels like a film – LA Confidential, in fact, along with any similarly hard-boiled example of film noir adapted from stories by the likes of Chandler and Hammett."

4. And finally, and this is what sold me on it - it's big. Hopefully this means there'll be lots of gameplay and things to do. The Los Angeles Times describe it as being "epic."


S R Management said...

90% of 1940's L.A. rendered, 95 actual period autos, and landmarks galore. My son bought the game the day it came out, finished it yesterday, and now while he's at school doing final exams, Dad's driving around Los Angeles in a Cord convertible like a rube in the big city looking at the buildings and mansions. What a way to waste a day off!

Chris said...

LOL - it's not quite what I expected (I thought it would be Grand Theft Auto set in 1947), but it's pretty cool. I love the feeling it can give you of being there - in 1947 Los Angeles. I'm alarmed your son finished it in a day, but I think many kids seem to think they have to finish these games as quickly as they can. I'm savoring it!

The makers of the game actually based the city on the aeriel photography of Robert Spence, who hung outside of an airplane with a 40 lb. camera, taking shots of L.A.: